When the first practice and qualifying sessions were completed Friday for the 2013 World Superbike Championship season opener at Phillip Island, Red Devils Roma Aprilia’s Michel Fabrizio was the rider to beat.The Italian posted a best lap of 1:31.218 around the 2.761-mile circuit, taking the provisional pole ahead of Aprilia Racing Team’s Eugene Laverty and BMW GoldBet’s Marco Melandri.Fabrizio continued this quickness during the practice and qualifying ahead of Superpole Saturday, the RSV4 pilot setting a new best lap of 1:30.387 in the new era of 17-inch spec wheels/tires.But that time would be beat during Superpole by 2011 World Superbike Champion Carlos Checa. The Spaniard’s Superpole performance was vastly different than his practice and qualifying session times. On Friday, suffered a high side at Turn 5 of 12 during the first free practice, which kept him out of the top 10 on Friday.But Checa and his team found recouped well for Saturday’s Superpole sessions, finding something impressive on the new Ducati 1199 Panigale R. Checa took the Phillip Island World SBK Superpole – his 10th of his career – with a new best lap of 1:30.234.This performance was attributed to Alstare Ducati Team Manager Francis Batta’s decision to save a Superpole tire for the final minutes of Superpole 3, when all the top nine riders were desperate fighting to be on the first three rows for Sunday’s WSBK race.Taking the second position was Laverty, who finished 0.195 of a second behind Checa. The final front-row position went to Fabrizio, who finished 0.234 of a second behind Checa.Heading up the second row is Kawasaki Racing’s Tom Sykes, who took a record nine pole positions in 2012 World Superbike en route to finishing a half a point behind last year’s champion, the now retired Max Biaggi (Aprilia Racing Team RSV4).Joining Sykes on the second row will be BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK’s Marco Melandri, who posted the exact lap time of Sykes, and Aprilia Racing’s Sylvain Guintoli.Fixi Crescent Suzuki’s Leon Camier heads up the third row, joined by the Pata Honda World Superbike team of Leon Haslam – the final rider to post within a second of Checa – and Jonathan Rea.Although Checa’s teammate Ayrton Badovini would have qualified 19th, he was forced out of the race due to a broken a bone in his right foot sustained during Friday’s sessions.2013 Phillip Island Superpole Front Row Rider Quotes:Carlos Checa (Alstare Ducati 1199 Panigale R Superbike) says: “Winning Superpole was a great surprise for me and is down to all the hard work put in by my mechanics, the physios and the rest of the Clinica Mobile medical staff. This morning, I felt pain in both my shoulder and foot and I really didn’t think I’d be competitive in qualifying and Superpole. The mechanics did a great job and made the bike easier for me to ride and by the time Superpole started this afternoon, I felt pretty good really – better than I thought I would!“In Superpole, I felt no pain and could attack without a problem. I like this track and have a lot of experience here, so I was able to push hard, but I really didn’t think I’d be able to go so fast and the lap time was a bit of a surprise to me.“I like the challenge of this project. Me and the team are all growing together and that is exciting for all us. Today was good, but we’ll have to see how the bike is in race conditions and also how the tyres perform after a lot of laps. Hopefully we’ll be competitive tomorrow and I can be in the mix at the end of the race. These past few days have been like heaven and hell. I missed some days testing because I was sick. Then I had a big crash yesterday and today we won Superpole!”Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team RSV4 Superbike) says: “After using my last qualifier in Superpole 3 I was on the second row, but I really wanted to be in the top three like I was in the last races last year.“I threw myself into a fast lap using a race tyre and I must say that everything went perfectly. It was just a bit rocky in the turn that comes out onto the straight stretch, but second place is excellent, especially since we’ve worked well on our race pace. Starting from the front was important. It simplifies things and now I am looking forward to the races tomorrow with confidence.”Michel Fabrizio (Red Devils Roma Aprilia RSV4 Superbike) says: “I’m not completely satisfied with my Superpole. After I had been in the lead in all the qualifying runs, I hoped to be awarded the Superpole, but I ruined it in a zone where until now I was very strong, that is the bend before the finish.“Anyway the satisfaction remains for the excellent work done with my team and the third place means the first row. I expect two long and difficult races. I think that after mid-race we must bite the bullet because we have a good race pace, but on the other hand a lot will depend on the weather. I thank my team as also today they did a great job and a special thanks to those who believed in me, first of all our GM Adriano Alessandrini.”2013 Phillip Island World Superbike Superpole Results:1. Carlos Checa (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati Panigale 1199 1’30.234 2. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’30.429 3. Michel Fabrizio (Red Devils Roma) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’30.5814. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’30.615 5. Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 1’30.615 6. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’30.6837. Leon Camier (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’30.991 8. Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 1’30.998 9. Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 1’31.74210. Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 1’31.283 11. Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’31.576 12. Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 1’31.87013. Max Neukirchner (MR-Racing) Ducati Panigale 1199 1’32.010 14. Jamie Stauffer (Team Honda Racing) Honda CBR1000RR 1’32.353 15. Ivan Clementi (HTM Racing) BMW S1000 RR 1’32.77316. Glen Allerton (Next Gen Motorsports) BMW S1000 RR 1’32.352 17. Jules Cluzel (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 1’32.402 18. Alexander Lundh (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’32.48719. Ayrton Badovini (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati Panigale 1199 1’32.540 20. Federico Sandi (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 1’32.898 21. Vittorio Iannuzzo (Grillini Dentalmatic SBK) BMW S1000 RR 1’33.082
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.